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Aston advice centre closes after cash crisis

St James Advice Centre, in Aston, which has helped Birmingham's neediest people for more than 35 years is set to close its doors after suffering a cash crisis.

St James Advice Centre, based at St James Church, Aston

A centre which has helped Birmingham's neediest people for more than 35 years is set to close its doors after suffering a cash crisis.

St James Advice Centre in Aston is shutting at the end of the month because of a lack of funding.

The facility first had to close in January 2011, after Birmingham City Council withdrew funding. The group started up again four months later as a charity called ‘Can Do 4:13.’

David Fletcher, the centre director, said they will now close permanently after running out of funds in the spring.

Mr Fletcher, aged 65, said: "We got some government transitional funding which covered a year’s running expenses of £54,000 but we ran out at the end of March.

"We made a number of funding applications to different charitable organisations and they have not been successful.

"We are going to mothball the advice centre basically in the future, in the hope there will be an organisation which picks up and carries on but that depends on getting funding which in this day and age is hard to get."

The centre, which is on the junction of Whitehead Road and Frederick Road, employs three part-time paid workers, two volunteers, and is open every day from 10am to 4pm.

In 2012, they dealt with 2,000 cases involving 500 clients giving advice on welfare benefits, debt, immigration, and housing issues.

Mr Fletcher, aged 65, who lives on the next street to the centre and due to retire, said the closure would have a profound effect on the local community.

He said: "This will end a proud record of over 35 years during which an advice centre has served the people of Aston and nearby, giving advice and assistance to thousands of clients on all kinds of subjects. They will have to go further. The community will miss us very much."

The Aston and Nechells Foodbank set up 18 months ago by the charity, will remain open.

 
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